The creative team behind Doctor Aphra — creator Kieron Gillen and co-writer Si Spurrier — talk to StarWars.com about the way the character has surprised even them, and the chord she’s struck with fans around the galaxy….
StarWars.com: This is both the start and the end of an era when it comes to Doctor Aphra, who is probably one of the coolest characters in Star Wars right now. Kieron, I want to start by asking how it feels to be handing Aphra off [to Si Spurrier]?
Kieron Gillen: I was just literally looking at the sales of Aphra this morning; it was the number two trade in February. A completely new character selling that well is shocking in comics. That kind of response is enormously impressive, as it doesn’t happen often. It feels sometimes like she’s mine. Salva[dor Larroca] and I cooked her up but enough people have written her now to make [her] bigger than me. She definitely feels like she’s outgrown me, essentially. [Laughs] So I quite like giving her away to other people who’ll get to play with her. My little girl is all grown up.
StarWars.com: Si, did you know how popular Aphra was before you started working on this project?
Si Spurrier: Nope, never heard of her before. No, I jest. I was aware and was delighted and honored to be asked to get involved. The particular beauty and the particular attraction of something like Aphra is that it, at one and the same time, hits all those recognizable IP-shared universe beats, in that we all grew up with Star Wars and we all love that world and we recognize it and we respond to its particular aesthetic and its particular vibe. But at the same time, Aphra is very much in her own funny little niche and off doing her own thing and, yes, occasionally overlapping with stuff in the wider universe in a way that always feels like a cute Easter egg rather than a continuity obstacle. But on the whole, she’s very much the rogue, believe it or not. She’s the rogue element. She’s the thing that allows us as comic creators, especially in a shared universe, to tell very different, very unique stories that you just couldn’t necessarily get away with with any of the more mainstream characters and groups.
Kieron Gillen: The thing about Aphra for me, I don’t know about you, but for me Aphra is always: what will she do and what won’t she do? You can never be quite sure what she will or won’t do. It’s these moments of horror when she’s going to do that awful thing and there’s also moments when oh no, she’s chosen not to do that thing.
Si Spurrier: That’s lovely and let’s not be reductive, but there’s an expectation when you look at the big expensive movie stuff we’re so familiar associating Star Wars with, that characters will always do the right thing, that they’ll always hit the right beats, and, not that they’re necessarily predictable, but characters will behave in a way that a character suggests. But one of the many beauties of Aphra is that she does get it wrong. She [messes] up. As Kieron says, she’ll be put in a position where it’s either A or B and, you know, because she’s Aphra, that she’s going to choose A. And then she chooses B. There’s quite a big sort of question mark about Aphra’s specific sexuality…do we have to tread carefully around specific sexual terminology?
Kieron Gillen: I normally say Aphra’s a lesbian. I’ve never written her with any romantic interest in men. There’s definitely some people who think Vader and Aphra were flirting but I’m not going to get into that.
Si Spurrier: Literally flirting with disaster.
Read the full interview here.